Chicken Inn host Ngezi Platinum

HARARE - Today's clash between Chicken Inn and Ngezi Platinum Stars is going to be one of the key games that might have a major bearing on the destiny of the 2018 Castle Lager Premiership title.

Ngezi Platinum, who are in second place on the log, travel to Luveve Stadium just two points behind log leaders and defending champions FC Platinum.

Tonderai Ndiraya’s side has done well to resurrect their season which threatened to blow up in spectacular fashion after losing four games on the trot.

Madamburo, who had gone on a 14-game unbeaten run at the start of the year, seemed to be going off the rails when they lost to Bulawayo Chiefs (1-0), FC Platinum (1-2), Black Rhinos (2-1) and Herentals (1-0).

That dreadful run saw them lose ground and at one stage trailed FC Platinum by six points as it appeared that the pressure was just too much.

However, Ndiraya and his charges were able to rectify their mistakes and re-discovered their winning formula with a 3-1 success over Triangle United last month.

They followed that up with a crucial 0-1 away win over Dynamos at Rufaro Stadium which saw them close that gap on FC Platinum.

At the weekend, Madamburo survived a scare as they trailed 1-2 to relegation-threatened Nichrut FC at Baobab Stadium.

However, winger Donald Teguru equalised with 15 minutes to go before defender Godknows Murwira scored with a free-kick three minutes from full time to secure maximum points for the home side.

That win ensured that Ngezi Platinum remained within touching distance with FC Platinum, who beat Bulawayo City 0-1 at Barbourfields Stadium on the same day.

Today, Ndiraya’s side comes up against an in-form Chicken Inn side that has kept up pressure on the leading pack when the other possible contenders have faltered along the way.

Joey Antipas’ charges go into this weekend’s game in third place on 40 points and trail Ngezi Platinum by just seven points.

But what should make Ngezi more worried is the fact that the Gamecocks have been in ruthless form in their last six games.

Chicken Inn’s run started with a 2-0 home win over Herentals which they followed up with a slender 0-1 away win over Triangle United at Gibbo Stadium.

Antipas’ men dropped points only in the 1-1 draw against Dynamos at Rufaro in a match they showed great character with King Nasama grabbing a 91st minute leveller.

The Gamecocks returned to winning ways with a 4-0 destruction of Nichrut FC before travelling to Rusape where they beat bottom side Mutare City Rovers 1-0.

At the weekend, Chicken Inn were again in irresistible form as they beat another struggling side Shabanie Mine 3-0 at Maglas Stadium.

It is against this background which makes today’s meeting between Chicken Inn and Ngezi Platinum a potential humdinger.

With log leaders FC Platinum at home to Chapungu at Mandava Stadium, whoever is going to drop points at Luveve will be in serious trouble as far as the title race is concerned.

A win for Chicken Inn will see them cut the gap with Ngezi to just six points which will throw the cat among the pigeons with only 12 games to go before the season ends.

A Ngezi Platinum victory will possibly ruin Chicken Inn’s chances of gatecrashing the title race.

The Gamecocks will trail the second-placed platinum miners by a massive 10 points which will be hard to eclipse in the remaining matches.

When the two teams met earlier this season at Baobab, Ngezi Platinum edged the tie 1-0 after a mistake in stoppage time by Gamecocks defender Passmore Bernard allowed Clive Augusto to score.

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